Monthly Archives: August 2009

A brief look at crime 8/24 – 8/30

Gambler son ordered tried in parents’ slayings

A professional gambler was ordered to stand trial Friday on charges that he murdered his parents in their Pleasanton country club home in hopes of reaping an early inheritance to pay off mounting gaming and other debts.  Witnesses testified that the younger Scherer had been in a desperate financial situation and stood to gain $1.5 million from his parents’ inheritance. Scherer III’s grandfather testified on video that the defendant was a compulsive gambler who “could not be trusted with large sums of money,” the judge said.  The victims were beaten and stabbed.  Their pajama-clad bodies were found a week later.

Couple at Joliet casino charged with leaving kids in van

A Chicago couple who left their two boys in their van at a Joliet casino were cited over the weekend for leaving children in an unattended vehicle, police said.  Ibarra told police he had gone into the casino to find Ayala, who was gambling, police said. Harrah’s management called police after casino security saw the children, whose ages were unavailable, in the van about 12:40 a.m., police said.

Teen gambling addict took bank cards to pay off debts

A 19-YEAR-OLD former gambling addict who tried to take nearly £8,000 from his father’s bank account to pay off debts has been put behind bars for seven months.  Kendall owed £9,000 and struggled to pay huge interest rates, Plymouth magistrates heard.  Because of his age and income he had to take out loans with extremely high interest rates. The debt kept escalating and he was absolutely desperate.” “Even worse than that he had two loans from loan sharks of £200 each at extremely high interest rates and now owed £1,000 on each. He was absolutely desperate to pay them back. They were making physical threats to him and threatened to attack his girlfriend, who lived with him.”

Shareholder accuses MGM Mirage execs of selling shares while withholding facts

Casino operator MGM Mirage is facing a federal lawsuit from a shareholder who says the company’s executives misled investors about its financial position and profited from selling stock at high prices. Lawyers for Robert Lowinger, who bought stock during the 18-month period, said MGM Mirage insiders sold personal stock worth nearly $90 million at high prices before reports of financial problems at the company and its largest development became public.

Gambling Ring Busted Up At Social Club In Michigan

Illegal gambling operations come in many different size and colors. They are set up in houses, restaurants, bars, and in the case of Warren, Michigan, a social club. That is where the latest police crackdown on illegal gambling activity took place. Warren police raided the Ryan Palace Social Club on Wednesday night. Their investigation has been going on for six months, and on Wednesday they arrested the owner of the club.

Police: Man Scams $2.5M From Women – Claimed He Needed Investors For Auto Safety Device, Coal Mines

A man has been arrested and accused of swindling $2.5 million from six women whom he met in bars and casinos over the past four years, Scottsdale police said. Leombroni previously was convicted of fraud schemes in 1994 from Cochise County and spent two years in prison.  He has also admitted that he has a gambling addiction, police said.

U.S. District Judge Stephen Friot shows no leniency to robber

A serial bank robber who was turned in by his son blamed gambling for his crimes. His defense attorney told the judge he has a gambling addiction. The judge said it is paramount society be protected.  “He wasted no time going back to robbing banks,” the judge said. “David Siany admits he has been gambling compulsively since he was 16,”

State fines Gulfstream Park $800,000

The state has fined Gulfstream Park $800,000 for security failures that allowed employees to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from slot machines by using free-play cards.  The penalty follows a two-year inquiry by the state — and a criminal investigation that resulted in the conviction of one employee for cheating and organized fraud. Other employees were fired or suspended but not charged.  The Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation concluded that the park also owes $144,000 in back taxes — an issue the regulation department is still looking into with the help of the attorney general’s office, Ross said.

US Postal Workers, Part Of Gambling Ring In New York, Are Arrested

Another branch of the US Government took a publicity hit on Thursday when US postal workers in New York were arrested as part of a sting operation on an illegal lotto gambling operation that was being run at the US postal service. Hundreds of people played the illegal lottery game, including Department of Sanitation city workers.

Man tricks children’s charity out of £8,180

A gambling addict has been given a suspended prison sentence after he defrauded a charity for terminally ill children out of more than £8,000.  Detective Inspector Mark Fairhurst from the SECU, said: “While many people raise funds for good causes legitimately, Gary Ferris used money he had raised for charity to fund his gambling habits.

“He took advantage of people wanting to donate money to help ill children and in doing so undermined the reputation of the Hopes & Dreams charity.  After he was arrested in August last year, Ferris admitted during police interviews that he had an online gambling addiction that had left him tens of thousands of pounds in debt and resulted in the loss of his house and car.

Tucson Man Arrested in Alleged $1.5M Fraud

Scottsdale police say they’ve arrested a 47-year-old Tucson man they suspect used a scam to defraud several women of more than $1.5 million in the past four years. Police say Leombroni has a previous fraud conviction and spent two years in prison. He admitted to detectives that he has a gambling addiction and has met his victims at various bars and casinos.

Coast Guard Official Embezzled Over $1.4 Million

A senior U.S. Coast Guard Academy athletics department official embezzled more than $1.4 million from a student sports fund to pay gambling debts before killing himself in March. Shortly before he was found dead in his car of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Alex Simonka admitted to federal investigators that he took $1.4 million between 2004 and 2009. He acknowledged that he misappropriated an additional amount. The academy did not elaborate on his gambling activities.

Indiana man pleads guilty to embezzling from estate of World War II veteran

Jeffrey Choate pleaded guilty on Friday to charges he gambled away thousands of dollars from the estate of his step-grandfather, a decorated World War II veteran.  In exchange for Choate’s plea, the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office dropped two, more serious charges of embezzling $100,000 or more. The office also required Choate to turn over to Michael Sierminski’s estate more than $400,000 in U.S. savings bonds, which Choate had earlier tried unsuccessfully to cash.  Choate made nine wire transfers of at least $10,000 to the Four Winds Casino in New Buffalo.  The older Sierminski was wounded while serving in the Philippines during World War II and went to church every Sunday.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH, & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION

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UPDATE: Large Opposition to possible new Missouri casino at local planning meeting

Casino Watch Focus reported that a meeting was being held by the St Louis Planning Commission regarding a possible new casino in North St Louis.  Now, The St Louis Post Dispatch is reporting the results of the meeting and feelings of the community – and it wasn’t very positive for the casinos:

Opponents turned out at the hearing in large numbers to voice concerns about North County Development’s plans for a casino…Dora Gianoulakis, president of the Spanish Lake Community Association and an opposition leader, called the umbrella of individuals and groups allied against the developers “an interesting mixture of people.”

That mixture has brought together disparate worldviews. Conservative Christians have found themselves standing alongside environmentalists, for instance. And anti-gambling Christians may link up with the last group they’d ever expected to agree with — owners of the six other casinos in the St. Louis area.

There are a number of reasons to voice opposition and The Post Dispatch outlined a number of those arguments:

The concern among some Christians in Spanish Lake extends beyond what they see as the moral hazards of gambling. “This is also about the stewardship of our environment,” said the Rev. Daniel Hite, chairman of Missouri Clergy Against Gambling Expansion. “The environmental impact is part of the consideration.”

A waterfowl refuge that makes up a large section of the southern part of the conservation area, and that is closed to the public for four months out of the year, parallels the northern border of the proposed casino complex site, and is separated from it by only 500 feet.

[Also]… members of Spanish Lake’s faith community say a casino would hinder their efforts to work with the poor. People with fewer means tend to be attracted to the lure of easy money won at a casino, they say, and when they lose the little money they have, the cycle continues.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH, & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


A brief look at crime 8/17 – 8/23

1 dead, 3 injured in overnight shooting in St. Louis

A teenager is dead and three other people are hospitalized after a shooting in St. Louis.  Investigators say the victims and others had been gambling in a dice game prior to the shooting.

Founder of BetonSports Pleads Guilty to Fraud, Forfeits $43 Million to Government

As part of a complex plea agreement, Kaplan, 50, entered pleas of guilty to charges of conspiracy to violate the RICO statute, conspiring to violate the Wire Wager Act and violating the Wire Wager Act. The plea had Kaplan forfeit to the United States $43,650,000 in criminal proceeds, which he wired from a Swiss bank account to a U.S. District Court bank account approximately one week prior to entering his guilty pleas.  BetOnSports advertised heavily in the U.S. to solicit U.S. residents to place sports wagers by telephone and over the Internet.

“Gary Kaplan made millions of dollars by making it too easy for people to gamble away their hard earned money without having to leave their homes,” said John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in St. Louis. “Today’s guilty plea should have a lasting effect because Kaplan was not only the founder of BetonSports, he was also one of the pioneers of illegal online gambling.

Mom charged after leaving infant in car to gamble in Windsor

Police today said a 32-year-old Tilbury, Ontario, woman has been charged with abandonment after allegedly leaving her infant daughter in a hot car while gambling at Caesars Windsor Casino….one count of abandoning a child and failing to provide the necessaries of life for allegedly leaving the 6-month-old girl in her car while she played the tables Thursday. Police said she admitted she had a gambling addiction.

Texas Completes Biggest Gambling Prosecution Ever

The state combined many of their law enforcement agencies on the raid that took place back in May of last year. When executing the search warrant, they found thousands of dollars in cash and also seized the eight-liner machines. In addition to the illegal gambling charges, founder of Aces Wired, Gordon Graves, plead guilty to felony tampering with evidence charges. The state of Texas is just one state that is attempting to crack down on these illegal gambling establishments.

Former health care worker pleads guilty of exploiting elderly St. Charles woman

A former health care worker was placed on probation today after admitting that she took $100,000 from an elderly St. Charles woman because of a gambling problem.  McClinton worked for a health care company an 85-year-old woman used in 2005 to help care for her 103-year-old mother.

Ex-panhandle sheriff sentenced to nearly 6 years

The former head of the Florida Sheriffs’ Association apologized to his Panhandle county and former employees for heading a money laundering and corruption scheme before a judge sentenced him to nearly six years in federal prison.  Investigators have said the bonus money came from Homeland Security and Justice Department training grants and that an inner circle within the department used some of the money to fund first-class Las Vegas gambling trips.

2 Orange County farms raided in dog-fighting probe

Federal and state law enforcement agents raided two Orange County farms Tuesday in an investigation of suspected breeding and training sites for dog-fighting operations. “There should be more” arrests, said Jeff Franklin, a spokesman for the Indiana Gaming Commission’s gaming control unit, which investigates illegal gambling. He said the investigation began about two years ago when the commission received a tip about gambling on dog fights.

Former credit union employee promises to repay $537,000 stolen for gambling

Court documents reveal that while audits during that period uncovered inconsistencies in automatic banking records, she was able to explain them away, at least in part because she was a highly trusted employee.

Ex-federal employee sentenced to 3 years for embezzling nearly $600,000

A former federal accountant who admitted embezzling nearly $600,000 from the government has been sentenced to three years and one month in prison. Harrington said he used the money to gamble and to pay off gambling-related debts and loans.

Suicide try made by suspect

A second man arrested in connection with the fatal shooting of a Holyoke man Aug. 9 remained under guard at Springfield hospital Saturday after attempting suicide, police said.  DeJesus and Bonilla-Torres shot Hernandez in an attempt to rob him of his gambling winnings, said Holyoke police Chief Anthony R. Scott.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH, & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


UPDATE: NFL worried Delaware sports gambling laws will spread across the US – other leagues join suit

Casino Watch Focus previously explained that Delaware passed a law that will allow single-event betting on NFL games.  Currently, only Nevada allows betting on the NFL, a practice the NFL itself has strongly opposed.  The NFL has aggressively attempted to stop or delay this new law.  An online source is pointing to a possible explosion of gambling across the US as a major reason they are attempting to stop this law:

If sports gambling works in the state of Delaware, it will not be long before other states try to adopt similar laws. The NFL knows that, and that is why they are panicking and showing an aggressive nature in trying to stop the betting from starting.

The NFL season is less than a month away, and Delaware has every intention of having their new sports betting options in place by that time. The NFL and other major sports leagues have tried feverishly to stall this gambling from taking place.

The USA Today is reporting that a judge has granted a expedited appeal as other sports organizations are joining the effort to stop this sports betting:

A federal appeals court judge granted an expedited appeal Friday sought by the four major sports leagues and the NCAA, allowing their lawyers to argue in front of a three-judge panel that Delaware shouldn’t be allowed to launch sports betting on Sept. 1.

Lawyers representing the NFL, NHL, NBA, NCAA and Major League Baseball sued Delaware in July, arguing that its venture into single-game and parlay sports betting violates the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA).

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH, & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


A brief look at crime 8/10 – 8/16

Ontario mom ‘on roll’ in casino leaves infant in car

A Tilbury woman, who was “on a roll” while gambling, faces charges after a six-month-old infant was found in a vehicle parked in the Caesars Windsor parking garage in the early morning hours of Aug. 6, 2009.

Two Men Charged in 2001 Killing of Karaoke Club Guard

Federal prosecutors announced murder indictments Wednesday against two men in the 2001 killing of a security guard at a karaoke club in Queens.  the men were members and associates of the Ah Jun, an organized crime enterprise, the Ah Jun engaged in murder, extortion, illegal gambling and narcotics trafficking, among other crimes.

3 arrested in Blu-ray DVD theft ring

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement found thousands of dollars worth of DVDs and other items when it executed a search warrant on Tuesday, August 4, 2009, at the home of Gregory Marinitz, whom officials say ran a multimillion-dollar theft ring. “Our investigation reveals he has a significant gambling problem,”

Underage Gambling Leads To Large Fine For Atlantic City Hilton

The latest case of underage gambling in Atlantic City makes it appear that the casinos in the city must be severely disregarding gambling age requirements. The New Jersey Casino Control Commission fined the AC Hilton $115,000, and they have put other AC casinos on notice in the process.  In the case of the Hilton, a nineteen year old was given a players club card and proceeded to play many table games including blackjack, roulette, and poker. He also played slot machines. The gambler played so much, that he was even given a comped room.

Kickbacks from adult clubs to cab drivers spur legal battle

Several Las Vegas taxi companies and adult clubs are firing back in a lawsuit over commissions topless and nude clubs pay to cab drivers for bringing them customers, and both sides appear to be digging in for a long legal fight.  The suit charges consumers have been harmed because taxi and limousine companies have extorted more than $40 million in illegal kickbacks from local strip clubs in exchange for diverting customers to the adult establishments.

Teen’s bets cost Atlantic City Hilton Casino Resort $115,000

But this would-be high roller actually was a teenager whose gambling spree between March 2007 and April 2008 cost Hilton a $115,000 fine Wednesday in one of the most egregious cases of underage gambling in Atlantic City’s 31-year history of casinos. Bally’s Atlantic City was fined $157,500 in November for allowing a 20-year-old woman to play the slot machines and gaming tables during an 18-day gambling binge in 2006. Kassekert said the penalty against Hilton was so severe because the casino ignored warnings from the state Division of Gaming Enforcement that the teenager was gambling there. Investigators tipped off Hilton on April 7, 2008, but the casino allowed him to gamble the following day.

Canada Man Faces Fraud Charges Related To Internet Gambling

Federal prosecuters indicted a Canadian resident on charges of bank fraud, money laundering and illegal gambling offenses related to his alleged role in processing more than $350 million for Internet gambling companies.  The indictment seeks the forfeit of about $565.9 million,

Ex-worker must repay $200,000

A former medical secretary was placed on probation yesterday and ordered to pay back $200,000 she admitted stealing from the doctor for whom she worked.  Ms. Grensavitch also was ordered, as conditions of probation, to continue to attend Gamblers Anonymous, to advise any future employers of her conviction, and to avoid acting in any fiduciary capacity.

Multi-Million Dollar Internet Cafe Gambling Operation Busted

Internet gambling cafes have become a popular target for authorities around the country. Dozens of these cafes have been busted for illegal gambling operations in the past six months. Authorities busted what they believe to be a multi-million dollar operation. Six people were arrested in the operation and hit with gambling related charges.

Exeter high-flier stole £100,000 to fund gambling

HIGH-FLIER Andrew May has been jailed for a year for stealing more than £100,000 from a city firm.  [He] admitted at Exeter Crown Court to three thefts by an employee, from the city branch of the insurance firm Friends Provident, totalling £112,952.  He was a well-respected technical consultant at the insurance firm, with access to confidential information, who stole two deceased clients’ pensions and from a tax refund to another pension, to fund his gambling addiction.  The court heard he had been a talented amateur rugby, football and cricket player

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH, & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


A brief look at crime 8/3 to 8/9

Gambling den kingpin, aide hacked to death

In an act of revenge a kingpin of a gambling den and his assistant were hacked to death in the wee hours of Thursday by a group of people. Mohammad Shafi Mohammad Hanif (40), who ran a gambling den, and his assistant were attacked by 20-25 persons over professional feud. Both Shafi and his assistant were killed on the spot. One of Shafi’s assistants survived the attack. Sources said, Mohd Sajid, who was arrested by the police, was Shafi’s brother-in-law and had fallen apart after heated arguments with the former. Shafi had sacked him.

Casino Gambling And Prostitution, Brazil Says No In Raid

In Brazil, authorities have uncovered a major prostitution ring in which 200 women in the past year were being sent to the US and other countries as prostitutes. Las Vegas and prostitution have been connected for as long as the city has been the gambling capital of the world. High rollers have become accustomed to having their choice of thousands of prostitutes when visiting Las Vegas.

Seminole Tribe police: Man robbing, battering elderly at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino caught

Seminole Tribe police say they’ve caught the culprit behind three robberies in the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino parking garage in the last month. The elderly woman had been sitting in her car at 5:16 p.m. when a man approached and grabbed her purse. Then he punched her in the arm to loosen her grip on the steering wheel and snatched the purse.

Man Finally Charged In Illegal Gambling Operation Case

With the authorities cracking down on bars and convenience stores for gambling activity, it was only a matter of time before they caught up to the Internet cafe’s.  One of those cafe’s, the Fast Cation Internet Cafe in Salt Lake City was the focus of an undercover investigation last October. Now, almost a year later, the owner of the business, Frank Musil, was finally charged in the case.

Metro: Prostitution activity found at topless Rio pool

Metro Police officers made arrests for “prostitution-related activity” Saturday at the Rio’s Sapphire Pool, police said, which resulted in the hotel-casino’s decision to close the pool.

Former Morristown attorney accused of stealing $200,000

A disbarred Morristown attorney who went to prison in 2002 for stealing $507,000 has been newly charged with swiping more than $200,000 from a business in Haskell for which he prepared tax returns. His partners learned he was stealing around April 1997 and offered to support him if he underwent therapy for compulsive gambling but they ousted him from the firm when his pilfering continued.

David Vincent jailed for two years over $1 million charity theft

A former Wesley mission employee who stole over a $1 million from the charity to feed a gambling habit, will spend at least two years in jail. The court heard David Vincent tampered with computers at the mission to feed about $1.1 million of the charity’s money directly into his own bank account between 2003 and 2008.

Ex-royal officer jailed for fraud

A former royal protection officer has been jailed for six years for masterminding a £3m betting and property scam.  Paul Page, 38, of Grays, Essex, conned 57 victims – including family and colleagues – over three years to fund a life of luxury and a gambling problem.  Page set up a bogus property company to con colleagues, friends and family out of savings, redundancy cash and pension payouts. Some not only lost six-figure fortunes but their homes and marriages, his trial was told.  His wife Laura, 42, was cleared of helping her husband launder the proceeds and intimidating and threatening to kill one of their victims after he spoke to police.

Md. man admits robbing senior of $10K at casino

A 31-year-old Baltimore man has admitted he mugged and robbed an elderly man of $10,000 after following him out of an Atlantic City casino into a parking garage. Lawrence Bellamy pleaded guilty Wednesday to robbery, and could get up to 16 years in prison when he is sentenced in October.

Woman admits embezzling

An Apple Valley, Minn., woman has admitted to embezzling about $1 million from veterans to support a gambling habit. Hanson was an appointed fiduciary for 33 veterans. In her plea agreement, she admitted to taking money from the veterans’ bank accounts from 2006 to 2008. She also admitted to filing false documents to cover up the embezzlement.

Former Tucson Museum of Art accountant pleads guilty to theft

A former accountant for the Tucson Museum of Art is facing up to 12 1/2 years in prison after pleading guilty Monday to stealing more than $973,000 from the organization over a five-year period.  Authorities have been unable to recover any of the money and Sons apparently lost it gambling.  A former accountant for the Tucson Museum of Art is facing up to 12 1/2 years in prison after pleading guilty Monday to stealing more than $973,000 from the organization over a five-year period. Authorities have been unable to recover any of the money and Sons apparently lost it gambling

Atlanta man used air pistol to rob South Carolina banks, police say

Jason Lamar Storms has been charged with using a toy pistol to rob at least 10 banks, and police say he shipped the stolen money to Las Vegas. It looks like after he robbed our bank, Storms drove to Florida, flew to Vegas and had the money shipped there in four separate bags,” Rodgers said. “He stayed in Vegas a couple of weeks and flew back to Atlanta in mid-June, so it sounds like he may have a gambling problem, too.”

Kansas casino partner linked to son’s sex scandal

A Washington sex scandal involving a Nevada senator could become a problem for a Sumner County casino. Kansas Lottery officials and state legislators say they’re concerned about casino proponent Michael Ensign’s role in making $96,000 in payments to the family of a woman who had a now well-publicized affair with Ensign’s son, Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev.

Michael Ensign, a casino multimillionaire, is one of two named principals in the Prairie Sky casino project. The Ensign affair has triggered complaints that the senator and his parents, Michael and Sharon Ensign, may have violated federal campaign law with the payments

On July 9, the senator confirmed that payments had been made by his parents to his ex-mistress and her family in April 2008, about the time they left the senator’s employment. The statement also explained that the $96,000 went to the Hampton family as a bundle of $12,000 gifts from each of the Ensign parents to Cynthia and Doug Hampton and two of their children.

At the time, $12,000 was the maximum amount that could be given as a gift without triggering tax liabilities.Whether the payments were legal or not, “I’m not sure that would pass the ethics test,” said state Rep. Vince Wetta, D-Wellington.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH, & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


Planning Commission to hold hearing on North County casino

The St Louis Post Dispatch is reporting about an important meeting being held by the St Louis Planning Commission regarding a possible new casino in North St Louis.  This meeting represents an important first step in the process.  Proposition A placed a cap on the number of casinos at 13.  The possibly exists that the President casino could be shut down due to the age and safety of the current boat.  Should that happen, a new casino could be granted a license.  Several companies have already expressed interest in a placing a casino in North St Louis, or the possibility exists that the President could be moved to the location as well.  The hearing is open to the public and The Post provides the details below:

The St. Louis County Planning Commission will hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. Aug. 10 on a proposal for a casino complex on 376.82 acres along Riverview Drive in north St. Louis County.

The site is just south of the Columbia Bottom Conservation Area, 0.9 miles north of Interstate 270. It also is north of the old North Shore country club site, which in both St. Louis and St. Louis County, which people for years have talked about as a location for a casino. Two developers presented proposals for the North Shore site in the 1990s.

The public hearing will be in the county council chambers, 1st floor, county administration building, 41 South Central Avenue, Clayton.

The hearing is the start of what could be a long process that a developer must complete before opening the casino.


For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH, & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION